I've been silent on the topic of Cindy Sheehan until now - largely because the topic has been covered thoroughly elsewhere, and I didn't really have anything new to add. But I felt moved to throw in a few thoughts today, so here they are.
With the recent news that her husband is seeking a divorce, and her family has largely disowned her, the true scope of this story is emerging. And when it all comes down to it, the story is less about the war than about a mother's failure to accept death, and the media's dogged coverage of a story in complete disregard for the fact that they're just making things worse.
Part of my education in my former career as a counselor included "Death, Dying and Bereavement." The five stages of grief
are widely used to illustrate the process of coping with loss. One of them is Anger:...At this point, we have gotten past some or all of the denial, but now we are angry about the loss. We may want to take it out on something or someone, or we may just express our anger in ways that are familiar to us.
Many people have talked about Ms. Sheehan's protest being an insult to her son, and people have made accusations of her using her son's loss to catapault her own agenda into the media fray. She's even been asked for her opinion on the Gaza pullout, for pete's sake! But I think what we're seeing here is the result of a woman who's dealing with immeasurable grief by deflecting her anger at an identifiable symbol of it. And it may be that in those that have joined her in Texas, she finds comfort. Her son's death isn't senseless if it's all Bush's fault, and she can make something come of it. She can't do anything to the terrorist murderer who actually killed him. But Bush is here. Still, deflecting her anger into this crusade isn't going to help. The fact is, a terrorist killed her son. Terrorists have killed a lot of American sons - and daughters. It isn't fair, and it never will be. No protest is going to change that. And grief doesn't magically disappear when you deflect it. It just festers, and continues the damage.
From where I sit, it is simply profoundly sad. In her inability to come to terms with her son's loss, she's going to lose her marriage, and possibly see irreparable damage done to her relationship with the rest of her family. Cindy Sheehan, in the end, isn't a symbol of anything. She isn't the spearhead of a movement. She's a woman obviously in need of help dealing with an agonizing loss.
And shame on the media for capitalizing on that to fuel their lust for anything anti-war and anti-Bush.